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Published: Friday, 8/13/2004

Tiger struggles, 10 shots back

BY DAVE HACKENBERG
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Tiger Woods is No. 2 on the Tour in putting, but he said he was atrocious yesterday. Tiger Woods is No. 2 on the Tour in putting, but he said he was atrocious yesterday.
JEFF ROBERSON / AP Enlarge

HAVEN, Wis. - Tiger Woods said his putting was atrocious yesterday and, compared to the leaders' cards in the PGA Championship, so was his score.

The world's No. 1 player opened with a round of 75 at Whistling Straits and is 10 shots behind leader Darren Clarke.

After insisting he didn't hit the ball "all that poorly,'' Woods did make a rare admission of being disappointed.

"Yeah, I am, no doubt about it,'' he said. "The greens are soft. Obviously, there were scores to be had. If I'd just putted normal I would have been under par.

"I got off to a good start, then I ran into a little problem.''

Woods began his round on the back nine and birdied No. 10. He then played the next three holes in 4 over.

He double-bogeyed No. 11 despite successfully stopping his downswing off the tee when a camera lens shuttered and distracted him. But he yanked his actual drive left, advanced his next shot out of the rough less than 100 yards, ended up needing five shots to reach the par-5 green and took a 7. He three-putted for a bogey on No. 12 and pulled an iron shot at the 13th hole that resulted in another bogey.

"I definitely needed to get something going and 14 was straight downwind. Stevie [caddie Steve Williams] handed me the driver and said 'knock it on.' I didn't think I could keep it in the air long enough to carry on the green, but it made it.''

It was a drive of some 350 yards - downhill and downwind - and he two-putted for birdie. But it wasn't enough for Woods to pick up any momentum.

Woods, whose scoring is fashioned around the fact that he ranks second on the PGA Tour in putting, needed 32 of them yesterday.

"I just never got the ball at the right speed on the right line,'' Woods said.

Woods' tour-record string of 128 consecutive tournaments without missing a cut is certainly in jeopardy.

"I'll need a round tomorrow like Darren shot today,'' Woods acknowledged. "I can't afford the same mistakes around the greens.''

DALY DOOMED? John Daly may have played his way out of any consideration for a captain's selection to the U.S. Ryder Cup team. He carded an 81, his worst round of the year, and seems poised to miss the cut in this event for the sixth straight time.

Daly had three double bogeys, but they paled in comparison to the quadruple-bogey 8 he took on the 18th hole, his ninth of the day.

"John hit some good shots into the most terrible spots,'' said Woods, one of his playing partners. "He got no breaks at all.''

Daly was considered a candidate for his first-ever Ryder Cup team. Despite ranking 20th on the points list, he had been playing consistently well this year. But it's unlikely that captain Hal Sutton, who will announce his two captain's picks next Monday, was at all impressed with what he saw yesterday.

UNEASY RYDER: Justin Leonard, who made the long putt that snagged the Ryder Cup for the U.S. in 1999 at The Country Club, is currently 30th on the points list and has rarely been mentioned as a possible captain's pick.

"I think the only statement I could make that would catch Hal's attention is if I'm sitting in this chair [in the media center] again Sunday evening,'' Leonard said. "Right now, I plan on playing in San Antonio [the Texas Open] and watching the Ryder Cup on television.

"Unless I do something wonderful these next three days, that's exactly where I'll be.''

THREE-DOT DATA: Whistling Straits is no easy walk for spectators. PGA medical services reported 51 injuries yesterday with 10 fans transported off site for further care. Most were ankle or foot injuries with several falls creating abrasions. . . . Hale Irwin had a hole-in-one on the 185-yard seventh hole, using a 3-iron. . . . Steve Lowery's 80 included a one-stroke penalty for slow play. It is believed to be the first such penalty issued in the 86-year history of the PGA Championship.



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